With Levin exit, a fundraising push

The development office is working around the clock and around the world to secure a number of large gifts as University President Richard Levin’s tenure draws to a close.

With days full of meetings with donors, Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill said she, development staff and administrators are putting forth a stronger fundraising effort this year than they have in previous years. While they are still concentrated on raising money for the capital budget, Levin said he is also pursuing gifts toward other projects, such as the two new residential colleges. Though Levin had hoped to secure funding for the colleges and a number of other construction projects that were stalled because of the onset of the recession in 2008, such as a new biology building, before the end of his tenure, O’Neill said it is unlikely that the University will raise the outstanding costs associated with the construction projects before Levin steps down.

“We’re going to be raising money for the same things the day President Levin steps down and President-elect [Peter] Salovey becomes President Salovey,” O’Neill said.

The University has raised more money in fiscal year 2013 than it had by the same time last year, but Levin declined to comment on the amount raised because the University does not discuss the totals before reporting the final. Levin added he’s been “trying to track a number of very large gifts,” coming in at eight- or nine-figures, but declined to comment on the specific number of donations about which he is in conversation.

Levin declined to comment on whether any of those prospective gifts will be designated for the two residential colleges, but he said he is optimistic the gifts will come through in the end.

To ensure the presidential transition does not detract from the volume of donations received, O’Neill said the Development Office has been introducing Salovey to several donors so he can continue the relationships they have with the current president. Levin has also personally introduced Salovey to donors, including a handful of previous benefactors during a visit to China last week.

In addition to visiting Yale-NUS in Singapore last week, Salovey met with donors and alumni as his “listening tour” continued in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Association of Yale Alumni Board of Directors Chair Jimmy Lu ’77 said the AYA and members of the Yale Club of Beijing hosted an event on April 16 for Salovey in which he addressed and had the chance to meet over 120 alumni, including U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke ’72.

Salovey added that he will announce a more definite order of initiatives for which the University will fundraise in the first few months of his presidency, but his goal will be to focus on major building projects.

Among Salovey’s highest priorities will be building the two new residential colleges and biology building, as well as renovating Hendrie Hall and the Hall of Graduate Studies — four projects that were stalled after the 2008 financial downturn and that have yet to restart.

While O’Neill said she is not aware of any radically new fundraising goals that Salovey’s term could bring, she said she doubts that any of Salovey’s ideas will be “out of left field” since the president-elect has served as the second-highest University official since 2008.

Though some donors hit it off with certain administrators due to shared interests or mutual friends, O’Neill said she would be “very surprised” if donors seriously prefer one president to another, given their similarities in approachability.

Yale raised $540 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012.

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